High-Risk Pregnancy

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If your pregnancy is considered “high-risk,” you may understandably be feeling a bit anxious. A high-risk pregnancy means that you have one or more health conditions that could cause serious problems for you or your baby.

Because you’re in this high-risk category, your team of healthcare providers at Baystate Health will carefully monitor and manage your and your baby’s healthcare every step of the way. This kind of specialized care helps ensure a successful pregnancy, childbirth and recovery.

In other words, you’re in good hands. Be sure to attend all of your scheduled appointments during pregnancy and after your baby is born. These are crucial ways for your doctor or midwife to check on your health and your developing baby’s well-being. And some women in high-risk pregnancies have more frequent prenatal appointments because of this.

What Makes it High Risk?

Each year, fewer than 10% of pregnancies are classified as “high-risk.” Among the conditions commonly associated with high-risk pregnancy are:

Hypertension / preeclampsia

High blood pressure in pregnancy can lead to preeclampsia—a dangerous rise in blood pressure with resulting organ damage in the expectant mom. Preeclampsia also disrupts blood flow to the placenta, which can result in small birthweight babies or infants born too early.


HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) causes AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) and attacks cells in the body’s immune system, destroying your ability to fight infection and certain cancers.

Significantly overweight or underweight

Either can cause preterm labor. Being overweight also puts you at risk for high blood pressure and gestational diabetes.

Gestational diabetes

When not controlled, this type of diabetes (which only occurs during pregnancy) can lead to high blood pressure for mom, a high birth weight and/or temporary (but dangerous) low blood sugar levels for the newborn.


Clinical depression during pregnancy puts mothers at higher risk for pre-term delivery.

Pregnant under age 17 or over age 35

Either can put a mom at risk for pregnancy complications including high blood pressure and premature birth.

Pregnant with multiples

Pregnancy with multiples puts women at higher risk for gestational diabetes, anemia and preterm labor.

Previous pregnancy issues

These may include having high blood pressure, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, miscarriage or a preterm delivery in a previous pregnancy.

While not every pregnancy complication is preventable, there are things you can do to help protect your and your developing baby’s health. These include:

  • Taking folic acid and prescribed prenatal vitamins
  • Frequent hand-washing to help protect against colds, viruses or bacterial infection
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Attending prenatal care checkups and tests

High-Quality Care for High-Risk Pregnancy

There are many factors that can lead to a high-risk pregnancy or delivery. If you or your baby need specialized care, you can rely on the experts at Baystate Health.

We provide comprehensive high-risk pregnancy and neonatal care. We also have the area’s only neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Baystate Medical Center.

Equally important, our team of board-certified nurses, doctors, and specialists also offers the experience and emotional support you need.

Your pregnancy may be considered high risk because of your age, previous problems with pregnancy, or a health condition. No matter what the cause, we’ll create a personalized plan to support your and your baby’s health.

Our multidisciplinary team of experts includes maternal-fetal medicine specialists, neonatologists, neonatal nurses, and reproductive medicine specialists.

Depending on your needs, a complicated pregnancy may require:

  • More frequent prenatal visits
  • Care from a maternal-fetal medicine specialist
  • Genetic testing and counseling
  • Pre-birth testing, including non-stress testing and amniotic fluid assessment
  • Neonatal care
  • A scheduled cesarean delivery (c-section)

If you have questions or would like to begin prenatal care, contact one of our Women's Health practices. Learn more about our birth centers, prenatal care, and labor and delivery options

Midwife Susan DeJoy with Mother and Newborn

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We offer a wealth of education and support for expectant parents and families.
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